The University of Newcastle, Australia

Researchers

Dr Emma Beckett

Dr Beckett has a multifaceted research background, with qualifications and experience in nutrition, epidemiology, science management, biomedical sciences, immunology, and microbiology. Emma’s current research is focused on how our genes and nutrients interact to modify our risk of chronic and later-life-onset diseases.

Professor Michael Bowyer

Professor Bowyer trained as a research chemist with expertise in organic synthesis. He has a particular interest in how interactions between organic molecules act as signalling agents in both natural and synthetic systems. Professor Bowyer has collaborated with experts to develop new, environmentally friendly treatments for extending the post harvest life of fresh farm produce using signalling gases such as nitric oxide and hydrogen sulphide gas to delay senescence.

Dr Tamara Bucher

Dr Bucher’s previous research was in the areas of biology, human nutrition and consumer psychology. Dr Bucher is currently investigating how nutrition information, food labels and health claims affect food choice and consumption, focusing on how food environments can be changed to promote healthier food choices.

Dr Bill Budd

Dr Budd is an expert in sensory and perceptual neuroscience with extensive technical and research experience in psychophysiological recording and analysis techniques including both central (EEG/fMRI) and peripheral measures (EMG/SCR/ECG/Respiration) of nervous system activity. The primary aim of his research is to develop our understanding of brain mechanisms underlying sensory and perceptual processes, and how we integrate sensory information across multiple modalities. A current focus of Dr Budd’s research is to identify biomarkers of olfactory perception, particularly those that determine our affective experience of odours. The major application of this research in food science is to provide a more reliable and objective means of determining the relationship between consumer preferences and the biochemical constituents of flavours and fragrances.

Dr Anita Chalmers

Dr Chalmers is a plant ecologist/botanist whose multidisciplinary research explores the benefits of vegetation to water, soil and human health. Dr Chalmers botanical expertise contributes to research onbioactive compounds within native plant species for use in the functional food and pharmaceutical industries. Her ecological research focuses on vegetation along rivers and floodplains, which are landscapes often used for agricultural production. Collaborative research on this topic has shown the important role that vegetation plays in reducing erosion along stream banks that are grazed by livestock.

Dr Andy Eamens

Dr Eamens’ research primarily focuses on the molecular characterisation of small RNA-directed gene expression regulation, with a particular interest in how microRNAs regulate the expression of their targeted genes in plant development, pathogen defense and in response to abiotic stress. More recently, Eamens has explored a molecular biotechnological approach to generate a series of modified plant lines resistant to salt, drought and heat stress, allowing for the identification of the microRNA/target gene expression modules that underpin the advantageous phenotypes displayed by the molecularly modified plant lines resistant to these stress insults.

Dr Troy Gaston

Dr Gaston is a marine ecologist with expertise in ecosystem monitoring and functioning of estuaries and coasts. He has over 15 years experience in determining sources of energy that support fisheries productivity and quantifying habitat-fishery linkages. Dr Gaston has specific skills in stable isotope analysis, an ecological tool that can quantify nutritional relationships in aquatic food webs. These skills are being used to assess the benefits of habitat repair and rehabilitation on fisheries productivity from a commercial and recreational perspective.

Professor Christopher Grof

Professor Grof’s research area is broadly encompassed by C4 photosynthesis and carbon partitioning. He has focused on development of a fundamental understanding of carbon metabolism/photoassimilate partitioning and more specifically sucrose transport processes at the more detailed cellular level in the key food and biofuel crop, sugarcane. His research group is currently undertaking cutting edge research in the development of Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Focal Plane Array FTIR’s as tools for detailed investigation of cereal grass cell wall composition and the development of predictive models of digestibility using spectral analysis.

Dr Paul Hodge

Dr Hodge is a lecturer in developmental studies, focusing his research on Indigenous-led geographies and natural resource management, forced migration, governmentality and hope, participatory/strengths based community development, vegan geographies and critical pedagogy. Dr Hodge is currently collaborating with Professor Simon Springer, Professor of Human Geography and Director of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University to research surrounding vegan geographies, an exploration of the social, ethical and sustainable implications for food.

Professor Brett Neilan

Professor Neilan has high level scientific skills in the areas of molecular biology, genetic and genomic engineering and microbial chemistry. Much of Professor Neilan’s work over the past 20 years has focused on the biochemistry of environmental microorganisms, including the genetics of complex metabolite biosynthesis and engineering of these pathways to optimise or modify production. Professor Neilan’s current focus involves the discovery, characterisation and production of compounds from novel microbial pathways.

Dr Penta Pristijono

Dr Pristijono’s research is exploring seafood postharvest technologies, including the appropriate handling and storage of seafood products after harvest. His research has extended to developing innovative horticultural postharvest technology, focused on environmentally friendly treatments for extending the postharvest life of fresh produce using nitric oxide gas, UV-C lights, low pressure storage, edible coating film and combination treatments to delay senescence without refrigeration.

Professor Yong-Ling Ruan

Professor Ruan focuses his research on identification of genetic bottlenecks that limit nutrient and water allocation to harvestable organs for improving food and fibre production in crops such as tomato, wheat, barley and cotton. By combining molecular, biochemical and physiological approaches, Professor Ruan has discovered genes, proteins and cellular processes that are pivotal to fruit and seed production. Along with his team, Professor Ruan has also undertaken translational research to improve crop yield, quality and sustainability. He has recently demonstrated that enhancing sucrose utilisation within reproductive organs alleviated fruit and seed abortion under heat stress in tomatoes, a finding with major implications in crop production amidst climate change.

Professor Christopher Scarlett

Professor Scarlett’s research focus involves the investigation of signalling pathways in pancreatic cancer to identify novel therapeutic and chemopreventive strategies. His research has also explored the role of bone marrow derived cells in the development of the normal pancreas, pancreatic injury and regeneration.

Dr Sukhvinder Pal Singh

Dr Singh leads the Horticultural Food Safety Research Program at the Central Coast Primary Industries Centre, Ourimbah. The broader aim of his research program is to mitigate food safety risks to horticultural industries and consumers. His team’s current research focuses on developing innovative methods for postharvest sanitisation of fresh produce and providing scientific evidence-based best practice to industry. Dr Singh collaborates widely with a range of stakeholders (growers, packers, retailers, industry, university and regulators) to follow a whole-of-the-chain preventive approach to improve food safety.

Dr Quan Vuong

Dr Vuong is an expert in food processing and preservation. With over ten years of research experience in food science and five years working actively with the food industry, Dr Vuong is currently working on three major research projects. These include natural bioactive compounds, utilisation of waste generated by the food industry, and development of edible films for extending postharvest life of fresh produce.

Dr John Golding

Dr Golding is a research horticulturist at the Central Coast Primary Industries Centre, Ourimbah. Dr Golding provides practical and cost-effective solutions for the NSW and Australian horticultural industries in postharvest management of product quality, including market access research. His current work involves developing and applying innovative market access and postharvest research in a range of important horticulture crops such as citrus, blueberries and cherries. John works closely with industry to ensure the outcomes of his research are practical and economic.

John also has a conjoint appointment with the University of Newcastle, where he co-supervises postgraduate students in horticulture, food science and technology.

Dr Sophie Parks

Dr Parks is a research horticulturist at the Central Coast Primary Industries Centre, Ourimbah. Dr Parks investigates growing practices that affect the yield and quality of horticultural produce, and the sustainability of production systems. Dr Parks’ most recent research investigates practices for evergreen blueberries, such as techniques for thinning flowers and fruit to promote fruit size and quality. Previous research has investigated vegetable crop production efficiencies under different levels of climate control, and practices suitable for vegetable crops in hydroponics and protecting cropping.